EHR, the cloud, and your medlist

What is a medlist? Why should you keep one? How can you get that organized? This article discusses the importance of a simple healthy habit that can make a big difference in your experience at the doctor's office.
Written by Denise Amrich, Contributor

Let's say it's time again for your routine checkup. Maybe your doctor has implemented electronic health records and always has a laptop in the room these days. Maybe the nurse or medical tech is asking you those same questions they ask every time. You find yourself thinking, "If EHR is so great, how come they have to ask me the same darn questions every time?"

Maybe you request a refill of a prescription the doctor gave you a year and a half ago, for a medication you don't take all that often (but really comes in handy when you need it). The person entering your info into the computer tells you that the medication is not on "your medlist".

Hopefully they've already taken your blood pressure, because you can almost feel your systolic BP rising as that white coat syndrome sure seems to be kicking in at this point.

"Why isn't it on my medlist?" you protest. "The doctor prescribed it to me!"

"Because you didn't tell us you were taking it the last time you were here!" they sigh, as they page through pages and pages of your electronic records to try and find the scanned copies of your prescription.

"What do you mean I didn't tell you I was taking it? The doctor prescribed it, right?"

Well, the best source of patient information is the patient. That's the most important fact that healthcare folks must remember to focus on, even while being confronted with more and more forms, records, computer screens, and regulations. The patient is the best source of information about the patient.

But patients have to do their part, too. Just because a doctor prescribed something doesn't mean it's being taken. That's why it's important to always maintain an accurate and current medication list, your "medlist," if you will.

Thanks to Reid Hospital, I found a fun acronym to help us all remember this. The acronym is MEDList:

  • M is for Make a list. Make sure it contains all current prescriptions, herbal substances, and over-the-counter medications you may be taking.
  • E is for Every doctor, Every visit. Bring the list with you! You could download their handy PDF and cut it down to wallet size, but for me E means Evernote. It's always with me on my phone. It has Encryption capabilities. It can be updated from anywhere and is stored in the cloud. Password protect your phone for added security.
  • D is for Don't forget. Keep it up to Date. It's actually not even a half bad idea to write down when you take a med. Sometimes I forget to mention, for example, things like antacids (which I rarely need, but use once in awhile) or aspirin. Modern technology makes it easy for us to remember things like this, so don't forget to create a system and use it! If you don't love Evernote as much as I do, find something, high or low tech, that works for you.
  • List is for your actual List, as in what to put on it, the name of the medication (brand and/or generic), the strength, how often you take it, and in what form (liquid, capsule, shot, etc). You could even break the list down for daily meds, stuff you regulary take PRN (as needed), and things you take rarely. Be sure to include that anxiolytic you take whenever you have to deal with an occasion like Thanksgiving dinner, or the med you have to take on the rare occasion that you have a super bad headache, or if your back goes out!

If you want it to show up on your medication list in the doctor's computer, you have to do your part and remind them you're taking it, however rarely.

If you can, print the list out and just hand it to them. Make sure you go over it before your appointment to verify that it's still accurate. Then go over it with them, med by med. If you have a system like this in place, it's easy to remember to add and subtract from it as needed. You'll have someplace to notate that new over-the-counter allergy medicine you're trying, or the fact that you switched to Tylenol from Advil, or whatever.

Do this for every member of the family and you'll be golden.

This can help you in many ways. It will make your appointments go more smoothly and quickly. It will help your doctor figure out if there are any interactions for new meds being prescribed with drugs you hadn't considered to be an issue. It will help keep you proactive in terms of your own health. Finally, in the unfortunate and stressful event of hospitalization, it'll be easiser to remember, so you can get the drugs you need procured by and dispensed from the hospital pharmacy.

Do you keep a medlist? How do you do do it? Share in the TalkBacks below.

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